How did William Golding's life experiences influence the novel Lord of the Flies?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Golding was an English and philosophy teacher at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury before he joined the Royal Navy in 1940 where he would eventually fight in WWII. Both experiences shaped Golding's perspective on life and served as inspirations for his novel Lord of the Flies. Golding's experience attempting to teach and discipline unruly children influenced the characters in his novel. Golding understood how children behaved and was aware of their disobedient, selfish personalities. Golding also witnessed atrocities and death during WWII when he fought in several battles. Golding commented that he witnessed what man was capable of doing to one another during the war. Golding is quoted as saying,

"Anyone who moved through those years without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey, must have been blind or wrong in the head."

This pessimistic view of humanity influenced Golding's decision to represent the boys in the novel as being inherently evil. William Golding drew from his experiences as a teacher and soldier to create a novel that portrayed humanity's inherent wickedness. 

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Lord of the Flies

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